Focusing on the main goal

1 Corinthians 10:29b-11:1

For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (NIVUK)

The Apostle Paul suffered all kinds of criticism from people who did not get his motives. The matter of how to deal with the dilemma of meat which had been offered to idols had torn the church. That is why Paul spent so much time in this letter helping the church to realise what was essential and how to be considerate of others whose consciences were disturbed (1 Corinthians 8:1-13 and 10:14-33).

However, Paul’s intention was not to issue a set of laws about religious behaviour. He wanted the church to understand how to support each other, and not drag each other down, because the glory of God and the gospel was at stake. Different approaches may be needed to help people from different backgrounds to understand the gospel, but such variations should not tear down the Church of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:25). Paul tried hard not to dull the influence of the gospel by needlessly offending people’s culture of conscience; he encouraged the Corinthian church to follow his lead.

Paul’s aim was for as many people as feasible from every cultural setting to receive the gospel, believe in Jesus and be saved. Paul was prepared to do whatever was important for that to happen, even if those who did not apprehend his motives criticised him. He was not pursuing his fame but God’s (Philippians 2:11). Paul did not want to accept any benefit for himself; he wanted many other people to come to know Jesus Christ and be saved.

Sadly the Christian Church through the ages has been tormented by people who do not have a gospel agenda. They are engrossed in their self-importance in the church, or the comfort that comes in the absence of a challenge to grow. They readily criticise their church leaders, their pastors; and yet have slight care for the millions who are still outside of Christ, dead in their sins and heading for a Christless eternity. So, quit criticising others and get on with the gospel work God has given you to do, where you live and work. Make every endeavour to ensure that your relationships with others encourage them to seek Jesus and take every occasion to bring them to Christ, and give honour to God.

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